Seasonal food in December isn’t just about Christmas dinner – there’s lots to enjoy this month from vegetables such as turnip, leeks and parsnips to clementines, cranberries and pomegranates. It’s also a good time of year for nuts, game and fish.
Wild December produce
It’s not just the shops that are full of colourful abundance at this time of year. There’s plenty of wild December produce, whether you enjoy the traditional country pursuits that allow you to come home with a brace of pheasant or some hare, or more gentle ramblings that result in a handful of chestnuts, wild mushrooms or walnuts.
When picking, go for heavy chestnuts with smooth, shiny shells. The picked nuts will dry out and shrivel slowly but the ageing process can be retarded by storing them in a cool, dark place such as the refrigerator. Chestnuts feature in some delicious recipes but they do have to be peeled first, which can be a pretty tedious process. The easiest way to accomplish it is make a slit in the shells and semi-cook the nuts by boiling for 20 minutes or roasting for a quarter of an hour. After this the shells should open up fairly easily. Underneath there’s a brown membrane which can be a bit fiddly to remove and is best done with the nut still warm.
A rich chestnut puree is the ideal accompaniment to turkey or goose in the wintertime.
- 1 kg peeled chestnuts
- 500ml whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 100ml cr*me fraiche
Add the chestnuts and milk to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the salt, reduce the heat and cook gently for 45 minutes. Drain the saucepan and mash the chestnuts. For a more crunchy consistency use a vegetable mill. Add the creme fraiche, stir and check the consistency. Add a little milk if you prefer a looser texture.
December produce in the shops
Of course you don’t have to forage your own! When you are in the supermarket, keep an eye out for the following seasonal food in December:
Fruit and vegetables
Brussels sprouts, carrot, celeriac, celery, clementines, cauliflower, chicory, cranberries, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, marrow, onions, parsnips, pomegranates, potatoes, quince, red cabbage, salsify, satsumas, shallots, swede, tangerines, truffles, turnips, wild mushrooms.
Meat and fish
Cod, coley, clams, duck, guinea fowl, goose, grouse, haddock, halibut, hake, hare, John Dory, lemon sole, monkfish, mussels, mackerel, oysters, partridge, pheasant, plaice,pollack, rabbit, red mullet, scallops, squid, skate, sea bass, turkey, turbot, venison.